Listen to WSOS Radio interview attorney Theresa Carli about foreclosures in St. John's County.

Host:
And good morning on this Saturday morning and every Saturday morning around this time we spend some time with the folks from Heekin Law, and specifically Theresa Carli. She joins us and we appreciate her taking the time out of her busy schedule to give us some great information. Today we're going to talk about foreclosures in St. John's County and greater St. Augustine and Theresa, that went away in 2009, right? I mean, we don't have any more foreclosures?

Theresa:
There aren't quite as many, but they are still being filed, people are still losing their homes, specifically now new homes are being built and people don't realize all of the costs that are associated with actually building a new home. It's not just the ticket price, per se, and unfortunately people are still losing their homes.

Host:
It strikes me, I'll see these advertisements for developments on State Road 16, near the Outlet Mall or up and near Palencia US 1 or on 207 and the ad will be something to the effect of, you know, if you can come in with 1500 bucks and a pay stub, you know, you can leave, you can own a home! Right? I mean there's almost more of a requirement to buy a new Jetta at Volkswagon of St. Augustine. It also seems to me like those folks may not have the resources down the road to handle various issues that may come up and that would put their home in jeopardy.

Theresa:
Well, yeah, I mean, home ownership is a great thing, but it also comes with a lot of costs and as any homeowner knows, upkeep, it's an expensive process and you see all the signs that say "starting at $299 thousand dollars" and that means you don't have door knobs or fixtures in your kitchen.

Host:
Door knobs are highly overrated.

Theresa:
They are overrated, I agree. So, things like that that always add on and at the end of the day you don't realize exactly how expensive everything is and you pile on property taxes and all that, it gets pricey.

Host:
Theresa Carli is an attorney at Heekin Law and she's spent a lot of time helping people who are going through foreclosure and the like. Give us an example, obviously we're not going to give out any names or anything but, now what would be a typical example of what people are dealing with right here in St. John's County, a case that you're perhaps working on how it sort of got to the foreclosure point.

Theresa:
Unfortunately what we're seeing now is that back in 2009 and 2008 when there were so many foreclosures one thing that people were doing was entering into modifications where they modified their loan and what we're seeing now is that people are unfortunately defaulting on those modifications because they'd been paying on the modification for a certain amount of time, but now the interest rate has risen or for some reason built into that modification was a raise in the actual payment and so now people are defaulting on the modification and that's something that we've seen come down the pipeline as of late.

Host:
Wow, I had no idea that was happening because when we first heard these programs that would allow you to modify your mortgage it was like, wow, this is a saving effort, if you will, but it really didn't deal with the fundamental problem, right, which was they really couldn't afford the property and they were very upside down on the property.

Theresa:
Yeah and that's unfortunate. Now modifications can be great. You can get certain types that actually reduce your principal balance. But there's other modifications that essentially just tack on fees and interest and things like that to the life of the loan and make the life of the loan longer. And things change, so after five years of payments your payment can actually change and people, I don't think, realize that at the beginning because they want so badly to save their home.

Host:
Right, exactly. Well, it's a key thing, of course, and you probably see this because you're doing real estate law each and every day, there's something emotional about our home, right? I mean, you know, you're car is your car, and you know you can get attached to your car, but your home is, you know, there's an emotional attachment there.

Theresa:
There is. Families grow up in their homes and have memories in their homes, so people want to do everything they can to save it if possible.

Host:
Sure, well and that's where Theresa Carli and her team at Heekin Law can come in and they work with folks here in St. John's County each and every day who are facing foreclosure, if you know somebody in your circle of friends, a family member, neighbour, you yourself are having some challenges, maybe you're behind a payment or two on your home mortgage, that's the time to get in touch with [Heekin Law], right?

Theresa:
Of course.

Host:
Yeah, it's probably a whole lot easier to start the process and you can probably do more for somebody if they kinda deal with the process earlier rather than later, but regardless of where you are in the foreclosure process, if you don't have legal representation, you should get some.

Theresa:
Yes, of course. Call us.

Host:
All right, Theresa Carli is with us here. This morning we are going to talk more about foreclosures here in greater St. Augustine. They are still around in 2016. She, of course, with the Heekin Law Firm. Go to HeekinLaw.com. That's HeekinLaw.com.

[Commercial Break]

Host:
And we're back with Theresa Carli. She is an attorney at law with Heekin Law and of course they have offices throughout NorthEast Florida, including here in St. Augustine. And we're talking about foreclosures this morning. That's right, a topic that was red hot back in 09 and 2010. Man, that just sounds like ancient history, but, indeed, each and every day people are receiving a foreclosure notice, right Theresa?

Theresa:
There's still many foreclosures going on in St. John's County, yes.

Host:
I would imagine when you get that notice in the mail, that's a scary proposition and we've heard all sorts of things coming out of the great recession. The notion is, well, if you get a foreclosure notice you can probably milk that for 3 or 4 years and live in your house. And then, after that, there was a lot of adjustments made and banks getting more aggressive. So then the perception was, no you could get kicked out tomorrow. So, where are we in that whole issue.

Theresa:
Right now we are somewhere along in the middle. There have been many laws put into place back in 2008 and 2009 because of the volume of foreclosures they did take longer to get through the process. Now the process has become a little more efficient. Usually before you ever even get served with a foreclosure complaint, you should be receiving notices in the mail from your lenders stating, or from their attorney, stating that you're in default or your loan has been accelerated and that you may get foreclosed on. At that point you should call an attorney and put an attorney on notice for you, so that when you do finally get the foreclosure complaint and court papers in the mail, you're prepared and your attorney can move forward on your behalf.

Host:
So, from the perspective of somebody representing someone who is going to be foreclosed upon, is the goal to get the issue fixed or is the goal to get them access to their house as long as possible?

Theresa:
A little bit of both. There's a little bit of strategic background, so to speak, that we learn to save your home and also prolong the process. Not for the purpose of prolonging, but for the purpose of perhaps getting you a modification or if you can part with your home, maybe perhaps doing a short sale, which we also do. There's also something called a Deed in Lieu, where essentially you give your deed back to the bank in exchange for them not foreclosing on you. And all of these can be, can have a better effect on your credit than an actual foreclosure.

Host:
Right. Cause it's your sense, and not that your a credit counseling expert, but still in this day and age in 2016 a foreclosure does have a fairly dramatic effect on your credit score.

Theresa:
It does and a foreclosure stays on your credit for seven years.

Host:
Wow. Okay. People that get these notices, you know, and they call you, how do things progress from there. I mean, kinda getting into the nitty gritty, if you will. What happens?

Theresa:
Well, once somebody is actually served with a foreclosure complaint, and it's very important if you do get served with a foreclosure complaint that you take note with regards to how you were served. Whether you were served at home, whether you were handed documents, that type of thing, because there are very strict requirements with regards to how people have to be served. Once that happens you have 20 days to file, what's called an answer. And essentially that's just your response to the foreclosure complaint. There are certain tactics that can be used to provide you with more time and those are things you would have to speak to the attorney about. And then, from there, there will be court appearances and things like that that can be intimidating, so it's always nice to have somebody in your corner, going to court for you.

Host:
And that's what Theresa Carli and her team do. They are in your corner if you are facing a foreclosure, if you know somebody in your circle of friends or family member, coworker, and they have either fallen behind on their home mortgage payment or they've received a foreclosure notice, we encourage them and you to reach out to Heekin Law. The Heekin Law Firm has a great website at HeekinLaw.com. That's H-E-E-K-I-N Law .com. HeekinLaw.com. Theresa also and the information about her firm are also on our Facebook page @WSOSRadio, so be sure to check that out and there's also a link too at WSOS Radio's website at StAugustineRadio.com. We're going to be right back with Theresa Carli as we wrap up our chat this morning about foreclosures in St. John's County. So stay tuned.

[Commercial Break]

Host:
And we're back with Theresa Carli and she is an attorney at law with the Heekin Law Firm. And we're talking this morning about foreclosures. That's something she knows a lot about. She spends a lot of time on that particular issue. And before we let you go this morning Theresa, I wanted to ask you about short sales. I mean, I guess number one, we always here that term thrown around and we've all heard of that term, but maybe you can give us a good laymens definition of exactly what is a short sale.

Theresa:
Sure. A short sale is exactly what it sounds like, it's a short payoff. It's a form of settlement. It's where you are in foreclosure and many times you might be under water, upside down on your home and the value is just tanked. So what we do is, we have real estate agents that work with our firm, and we market your property. And the listing price is usually lower than what you owe on it. Once we receive an offer, we then send that offer to the lender and the lender will, hopefully, accept the offer, which is less than what you actually owe on the home. So they're taking a short payoff in full settlement of what you actually owe. So that's what a short sale is.

Host:
So once that gets executed, does the person doing, you know, doing the short sale of your property, does their credit get dinged by that?

Theresa:
There is a ding on your credit, but it's not because of the short sale, it's because of all of your missed payments up to that point. It's like any other bill, every time you miss a payment, your credit takes a hit. So, this is just like any other thing.

Host:
For those who are facing a short sale, and indeed deed short sale is a great remedy for many people facing a foreclosure, you all have sort of a different approach to it, right? That works pretty well because of all the comprehensive services you offer in house.

Theresa:
We do. In house we offer both the legal services to fight the foreclosure so you have plenty of time to come to a resolution and avoid actually getting a foreclosure on your credit. At the same time, we have a short sale department that's right in house. And we work with a lot of real estate agents so that we can get your house marketed for you. We have a short sale department that works directly with the lenders and we're able to communicate on a legal side of things with our short sale department so that we can keep in touch with, the lenders, the attorney on the other side, the judge, everything is handled in house so that you have a one-stop shop and we can be more efficient in getting your short sale completed. And then once the short sale is completed, the foreclosure case is dismissed.

Host:
Wow. Seems like a good way when this has happened to somebody and they've gone through this foreclosure process, which is quite honestly taken several months at least, it's a good way to just move on, right?

Theresa:
It is. A lot of people, unfortunately, they may want to keep their home, but at the same time, a lot of people just want a fresh start. And this is a good way to do that.

Host:
Excellent. Well, if you have any questions at all on short sales, foreclosures, anything, really, real estate related, that's what they do each and every day at the Heekin Law Firm with offices here in St. John's County and throughout NorthEast Florida. Theresa Carli lives with us here in St. John's County and St. Augustine and she's been doing this work and helping people for a long time. We encourage you to reach out to her. You can do that best by just checking out the website: HeekinLaw.com. That's HeekinLaw.com. Theresa Carli, thank you for your time and we'll talk with you again next Saturday morning.

Theresa:
Thank you so much!

All articles are written by a member of the Heekin Law staff with the intent of providing current and accurate information, but information changes over time. Please do not use this information in lieu of seeking assistance from an attorney. This article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.